There were 280 million active users of Microsoft Teams in 2023. As organizations increasingly rely on Microsoft Teams, video and voice calling capabilities have become the norm. Microsoft Teams offers two primary solutions for voice calling:

  • Operator Connect
  • Direct Routing

Both serve the same purpose of connecting Microsoft Teams to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), but they differ significantly in their implementation, features, and suitability for different organizations and their needs. 

Understanding Direct Routing

Direct Routing provides organizations with the flexibility to connect their existing on-premises Session Border Controller (SBC) to Microsoft Teams. This approach offers greater control over voice routing and call quality — as well as the ability to leverage existing telephony infrastructure.

Direct Routing can be complex and requires an experienced IT team. It is best suited for large organizations with dedicated IT teams to manage the SBC. A few of the key benefits for IT teams include:

  • Granular control over voice routing and call quality
  • Integration with existing telephony infrastructure
  • Flexibility in carrier selection and pricing
  • Potential cost savings for high-volume calling

In addition to the traditional Direct Routing method described above, Yorktel offers a unique Direct Routing as a Service solution where the SBC is hosted by Yorktel in the cloud, rather than on-premises. Not only does this provide increased visibility for our managed services team when troubleshooting, but also offers an alternative to standard on-premise SBC deployment. This cloud-based option to Direct Routing brings added convenience and efficiency.

Exploring Operator Connect

Operator Connect simplifies the connection by eliminating the need for an on-premises SBC. Instead, organizations can purchase and manage phone numbers and calling plans from providers, who manage the infrastructure in the cloud.

Operator Connect reduces the IT burden associated with managing SBCs and is a great solution for organizations of any size that want simplicity and managed collaboration services.

Benefits include:

  • Simplified setup and configuration
  • Reduced IT management overhead
  • Easy access to certified carriers and calling plans
  • Streamlined troubleshooting and support

Feature Comparison

Here is a side-by-side comparison of the features of Direct Routing vs Operator Connect.




Microsoft Operator Connect vs Direct Routing Implementation

There are also a few key differences with Direct Routing vs Operator Connect when it comes to implementation.

With Operator Connect, Microsoft handles all the complexity of connecting to the PSTN in the cloud. When an organization purchases a calling plan from an Operator Connect partner:

  • Microsoft provisions phone numbers and ports existing numbers into Teams
  • Audio traffic is routed to the operator’s SBC in Azure
  • The operator then connects the call to the PSTN network
  • Call quality and reliability is governed by Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

This means the organization does not need to manage any on-premises SBC infrastructure. The service is delivered and maintained by Microsoft and its operator partners.

Direct Routing shifts control and management to the customer. It works as follows:

  • Organizations deploy their own certified SBC on-premises
  • This connects to Teams through a SIP trunk
  • Audio traffic from Teams is routed to the customer SBC
  • The SBC then hands calls off to a SIP trunk provider
  • This connects to the PSTN network through local, last-mile telephony providers

Both Operator Connect and Direct Routing provide seamless integration, especially for users. Once implemented, users see no difference in operation. However, Direct Routing requires full control over the SBC, trunks, and carriers in addition to managing the on-prem infrastructure.

With Operator Connect, your provider handles carrier certification and manages the cloud infrastructure.

Best Practices and Recommendations

Optimizing voice calling solutions should start with an assessment of your needs and requirements, taking into account organizational size and structure, call volume, and legacy equipment that requires integration.

This can help determine the best approach to connectivity. The expertise and availability of IT teams is an important consideration as well. The complexity of implementing and managing a voice calling solution varies greatly depending on the chosen approach, whether it be Operator Connect or Direct Routing.

Consult With a Certified Microsoft Partner

IT professionals should consider consulting with a certified Microsoft Teams partner like Yorktel to get guidance and avoid making costly mistakes.

The experts at Yorktel have in-depth knowledge of both Operator Connect and Direct Routing, and they can provide tailored guidance based on your organization’s needs and use cases. This expertise can be invaluable in navigating the complexities of different solutions and making informed decisions that align with the organization’s needs and budget.

Contact Yorktel today to discuss your communication and collaboration needs. As communication technology continues to evolve, you can trust Yorktel to provide you with expert guidance to remain competitive.

Let’s Reimagine Collaboration, together.

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